The Czech Republic has had a trade deficit since 1975. The primary industrial commodities exported by the Czech Republic are machinery and transport equipment,
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Czech Republic|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
as well as other manufactured goods. In 1998, these categories comprised 41 percent and 40 percent of all commodity exports, respectively. Other significant exported commodities were chemicals, which made up 8 percent, and raw materials and fuel, which were 7 percent. Aside from commodities, the Czech Republic also exports some services, and has demonstrated a positive trade balance in this sector. The primary consumers of Czech exports are Germany and Slovakia.
The Czech Republic imports primarily the same type of goods as it exports. Approximately 39 percent of all imports for 1998 were classified as machinery and transport equipment. Other imports included manufactured goods, which comprised 21 percent of imports; chemicals, 12 percent; and raw materials and fuel, 10 percent. Germany and Slovakia serve as the primary sources of Czech imports.
In the first few years following 1989, the Czechoslovak state made a concentrated effort to shift trade away from the former Soviet countries, and to the European Union (EU) and the United States. The Czech government actively encouraged this shift in an effort to improve chances for entry into the EU. Czech trading patterns continue to show increased volume in trade with the EU and the United States, and decreased volume with other East European countries and the former Soviet Union. As one result of this shift, trade with the Slovak Republic has declined, in spite of a favorable customs union between the 2 countries. The Slovak Republic made up 18 percent of the Czech Republic's foreign trade turnover in 1993, but by 1999 it was approximately 7 percent. The EU now makes up approximately 67 percent of the foreign trade turnover of the Czech Republic.
Among the EU countries, the Czech Republic's most significant trading partner is Germany, which made up 38 percent of the Czech trade turnover in 1999. Following Slovakia (7 percent), other important European trading partners are Austria (6 percent), France, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom, which each make up 4 to 5 percent of the trade volume. The United States and the Russian Federation each make up approximately 3 percent of Czech trade turnover.